Gaston: Smoking regulations for residence halls could help make CSU a smoke-free campus

Sam Gaston

Smoking near the residence halls has become a source of frustration and annoyance for those who choose not to smoke, but still deal with the secondhand smoke. The policy currently set in place is that the individual must be 25 feet away from the building. However, many tend to not abide by these rules, creating more problems for residents.

Living in Parmelee Hall, my roommates and I often find it difficult at times to keep our window open due to the secondhand smoke that drifts through it. Having to make the choice between being hot or smelling and inhaling smoke does not seem fair to those that make the choice to not smoke.

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Some people may be reading this and think, “Secondhand smoke isn’t that big of a deal — smoking a cigarette is way worse.” However, it is proven that there is no safe exposure level for secondhand smoke and it contains the same chemicals that smokers themselves inhale. It also causes 7,330 deaths from lung cancer and 33,950 deaths from heart disease each year.

I choose not to smoke because I do not want to be a part of the statistics or ruin my long-term health with something that can be prevented. Consequently, seeing the death rates and cancers linked to secondhand smoke is unnerving. The rate of exposure to secondhand smoke when living in the residence halls is a scary reality that needs to change.

I spoke to Muhammed Hamza Ahmad, an RA for Parmelee, about the concern surrounding smoking near the residence halls.

“Residents are very upset when they can smell the smoke that come into their rooms from areas where people are smoking,” he explained. “I have received lots of complaints.”

When asked what actions are being taken to reduce the amount of smokers not abiding by the 25-feet rule, Ahmad said, “We are removing the ashtrays over spring break and putting up ‘No Smoking’ signs instead.” 

The ashtrays are right next to the doors leading into the residence halls. With these replaced with signs that designate a no-smoking zone, there could be a dramatic decrease of secondhand smoke. Ahmad stated that he believes that the ashtrays and benches close the halls promote smoking, as they are convenient to those outside.

According to the policies set in place by CSU, students have the right to smoke 25 feet away from entrances without repercussions. Legally, most everyone attending CSU can smoke, as the legal age is 18. College is a major source of stress, and smoking can be a way that people relax. Others may be addicted and can’t quit. Some do it to appease their friends. 

Despite these reasons, there are alternatives. Students can find new places to smoke that are less populated. They can also use their CSU gym membership to relieve stress and receive counseling for an addiction problem.

Hopefully, reinforcing the smoking policy near the residence halls will have a domino affect on the rest of campus. If we can slowly but surely move toward a smoke-free campus, the pro will be a positive effect on student health and happiness.

Being able to simply open a window without secondhand smoke drifting through will decrease the frustration that many experience. Another populated smoking area seems to be in front of Clark. It would be ideal to see more “No Smoking” signs go up in more populated areas, such as Clark. If these actions were to take place, the school could provide a healthier environment that eases some concerns non-smokers have about their health.

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Secondhand smoke is a health hazard that those who choose to not smoke should not have to be exposed to and, hopefully, we could eventually see a change in the smoking policy on campus.

Collegian Columnist Sam Gaston can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @SammyGaston.